Entertainment TV The Logies enter a golden age … at last
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The Logies enter a golden age … at last

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Whisper it quietly but this year’s Logies might just be on to something, and it’s not the location of the best afterparty.

Television in Australia is actually looking … good. Our drama output, dominated for so long by former Ramsey Street residents and whoever is playing Kerry Packer this year, has offered up a genuinely impressive line up, worthy of a night of celebration.

This year, there’s something else. Rip up the red carpet, send back the One Direction wannabes, tell the tape library to shelve the stock footage … we’ve got a real competition on our hands.

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2009 nominees: Kirsty Lee Allan, Jessica Marais and 2014’s ‘It’ girl Margot Robbie: Photo: Getty

If you’re playing Logies Bingo, come the last weekend in April there are a few phrases you will want on your playing card. You can safely expect to hear any of the following mumbled – or shrieked – on the red carpet, inside the venue or from your fellow couch-side commentator:

“Who are you wearing?”

“WHAT is she wearing?”

“Oh God, not that guy … DARLING!”

And of course:

“This goes for HOW long?!”

One phrase you might not expect to hear, at least not from anyone not reading an auto-cue, is this:

The Logies might just have a point.

Traditionally the ceremony provides little more than an annual opportunity to declare Summer Bay the local equivalent of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts; to watch overseas stars hand out an award they can’t pronounce with one hand while texting their agent to fire them for booking this gig with the other; and to get to watch that amusing clip with Bert Newton and Mohammed Ali again.

All that plus a red carpet that ensures the Brownlow Medals aren’t the only fashion event of the year to get a Footy Show commentary and a strange 360-degree camera that makes every actress look like they’re in the Matrix rebooted with a Catherine Martin themed wardrobe from Target.

This year, there’s something else. Rip up the red carpet, send back the One Direction wannabes, tell the tape library to shelve the stock footage … we’ve got a real competition on our hands. The 2014 Logies have some genuine quality to celebrate and deliberate over.

When did we last have a local drama that had already won Emmy and Golden Globe awards? The Foxtel mini-series Top of the Lake – an international co-production that the ABC actually withdrew funding from – has not only done both but has become a benchmark by which shows such as True Detective have since been measured by international critics.

Not that the ABC should feel too much regret. They have dominated nominations for the peer-voted Logie categories with the AACTA Award winning Redfern Now and The Time Of Our Lives leading the eleven nods the network received across all five drama categories.

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Quality: Redfern Now, starring Kirk Page and Deborah Mailman, is in a glut of great Australian TV shows. Photo: Supplied

While Kerry Packer would presumably relish the fact that he still holds such sway at the awards eight years after his death – with two miniseries tracking the media mogul’s life and business scooping five nominations between them – what would he think of the actor who plays his father competing with a comedian who plays a private school girl? Or David Wenham defending the last Australian to receive capital punishment for drug smuggling?

And there is the ultimate emblem of quality over quantity with Asher Keddie and Offspring continuing to approach the surreal tipping point at which more people vote for them to win Logies than watch the network on which they appear.

The dramatic talent on show runs deeper than the stars in front of the camera. While producer John Edwards had a hand in both Packer tales and Offspring, the list of names behind the scenes in Australian television in the last year is long and illustrious. From Oscar-winning director Jane Campion who helmed Top of the Lake to arguably Australia’s foremost television critic Michael Idato who was a key figure in Foxtel’s rebirth of Prisoner as Wentworth another multiple nominee.

For the first time in ages the nominations sound a lot like the shows on your boxset wishlist.

Better still, look at the shows that haven’t got a look in. From the HBO/ABC co-production Serangoon Road to another John Edwards product Puberty Blues, the likes of House Husbands, Rake, Jack Irish and Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries prove there is sufficient depth to the television drama pool to dive in without a death wish.

That pool even gets a few amusing floating toys in the form of thoughtful comedies such as Please Like Me and Upper Middle Bogan which absurdly find themselves competing with The Voice Australia in a single ill-defined light entertainment category.

Certainly, the Logies as a television event itself will most likely feel like a sequin-drenched train-wreck that you can’t quite tear your eyes away from, but for the first time in ages the nominations sound a lot like the shows on your boxset wishlist that you might find yourself bingeing on when you realise it’s going to be another year without Andrew Denton or Shaun Micallef hosting.

THE 2014 LOGIE NOMINATIONS

Gold Logie Nominees

Scott Cam – The Block (Channel Nine)

Essie Davis – Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (ABC)

Andy Lee – Gap Year Asia (Channel Nine)

Asher Keddie – Offspring (Network Ten)

Carrie Bickmore – The Project (Network Ten)

Stephen Peacocke – Home and Away (Channel Seven)

Silver Logie — Most Outstanding Drama Series

A Place To Call Home (Channel Seven)

Offspring (Network Ten)

Redfern Now (ABC1)

The Time Of Our Lives (ABC1)

Wentworth (Foxtel/ SoHo)

Silver Logie — Most Outstanding Miniseries or Telemovie

An Accidental Soldier (ABC1)

Better Man (SBS ONE)

Paper Giants: Magazine Wars (ABC1)

Power Games: The Packer-Murdoch Story (Nine Network)

Top Of The Lake (Foxtel/UKTV)

Silver Logie — Most Outstanding Actor

Chris Lilley (Ja’mie: Private School Girl, ABC1)

Craig McLachlan (The Doctor Blake Mysteries, ABC1)

David Wenham (Better Man, SBS ONE)

Kirk Page (Redfern Now, ABC1)

Lachy Hulme (Power Games: The Packer-Murdoch Story, Nine Network)

Silver Logie — Most Outstanding Actress

Asher Keddie (Offspring, Network Ten)

Claudia Karvan (The Time Of Our Lives, ABC1)

Danielle Cormack (Wentworth, Foxtel/ SoHo)

Kat Stewart (Offspring, Network Ten)

Mandy McElhinney (Paper Giants: Magazine Wars, ABC1)

Graham Kennedy Award for most outstanding newcomer

Anna Bamford (Wonderland, Network Ten)

Caren Pistorius (Paper Giants: Magazine Wars, ABC1)

Meyne Wyatt (Redfern Now, ABC1)

Remy Hii (Better Man, SBS ONE)

Shareena Clanton (Wentworth, Foxtel/SoHo)

Most outstanding light entertainment program

Housos (SBS ONE)

It’s A Date (ABC1)

Please Like Me (ABC2)

The Voice Australia (Nine Network)

Upper Middle Bogan (ABC1)

Most outstanding news coverage

Crisis in Cairo — Brett Mason (World News Australia, SBS ONE)

Leadership Spill (Foxtel/ SKY NEWS)

“Missing the boat” Jaymes Diaz Interview (Ten Eyewitness News, Network Ten)

NSW Bushfires (Nine News, Nine Network)

The Dark Side of the Force (Seven News, Channel Seven)

Most outstanding public affairs report

A Gracious Gift (Four Corners, ABC1)

Drugs in Sport — Stephen Dank (7.30, ABC1)

Manus Island (Dateline, SBS ONE)

Prime Suspect (Sunday Night, Channel Seven)

Prisoner X — The Australian Connection (Foreign Correspondent, ABC1)

Most outstanding factual program

Desert War (ABC1)

Dirty Business (SBS ONE)

Jabbed (SBS ONE)

Kings Cross ER: St Vincent’s Hospital (Foxtel/Crime & Investigation Network)

Redesign My Brain (ABC1)

Most outstanding sports coverage

2013 Emirates Melbourne Cup Carnival (Channel Seven)

2013 NRL Grand Final (Nine Network)

2013 Toyota AFL Grand Final (Channel Seven)

The Ashes Cricket — Australia v England (Nine Network)

Tour de France (SBS ONE)

Most outstanding children’s program

Dance Academy (ABC3)

Move It Mob Style (NITV)

Nowhere Boys (ABC3)

Play Along With Sam (Foxtel/Nick Jr)

Play School (ABC4Kids)

The Logies will be telecast from Melbourne’s Crown Palladium on the Nine Network on Sunday, April 27.

Giles Hardie is a long-time television and arts critic. He previously wrote extensively for Fairfax publications.